Tag Archives: Chin Sing

Lee Quong On –1901 Discharge Papers

“Lee Quong On, Discharge Papers,” 1901
“Lee Quong On, Discharge Papers,” 1901, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Quong On case file, Seattle Box 823, file 7030/13484.

This file contains documents and photos of Lee Quong On from 1901 to 1941. Lee was born in San Francisco on or about 20 June 1879. He and his parents returned to his parents’ village in China when Lee was about seven years old. In 1898 Lee married Wong She in Chu Ging village, Sun Ning district. They had one child, a son, Lee Or Yuen, born in 1900.

In early 1901 Lee Quong On left China. He arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; then took a train to Montreal, Quebec and made his way to Burke, Franklin County, New York. He was immediately arrested. On 15 March 1901, he was brought before Hon. William V. S. Woodward, U.S. Commissioner of Plattsburgh, N. Y. and charged with unlawfully being in the U.S. A trial was held. He and three witness: Chin Sing, Chin Dan and Tsao Dong, testified in his favor. The evidence was considered, the charges were cleared, and Lee was released. He received his discharge certificate with his photograph attached in August 1901 at Port Henry, New York from Fred W. Dudley, a United States Commissioner, Northern District of New York.

When Lee Quong On applied to go to China in 1908, he swore in an affidavit that he was born in the United States to Chinese parents, went to China with his parents at a young age, and returned in 1901. He told how he was arrested at Rouse’s Point, New York in 1901 and taken to jail at Plattsburgh, New York but eventually was released and given his discharge certificate. His 1908 departure was approved, and a current photograph of him was attached to his affidavit. He left for China through the Port of Richford, Vermont.

Lee returned through Vancouver, British Columbia in August 1911. He was 32 years old, marriage name of Lee Doon Po, a laundryman, and living in Boston, Massachusetts. Lee exchanged is discharge certificate for a certificate of identity.

“Affidavit Photo of Lee Quong On,“ 1916
“Affidavit Photo of Lee Quong On,“ 1916

Lee’s next visit to China was in 1916. By this time, he was a merchant but still living in Boston. Charles V. Slane was a witness for him. Lee was issued United States passport #2220 before he left the U.S.

Affidavit Photos of Lee Quong On & Chin Hong Ark,” 1940
“Affidavit Photos of  Chin Hong Ark & Lee Quong On,” 1940

In 1940, Lee wanted to return to the United States. He was a merchant at the Ow Sang Market but because of the war with Japan, the market was being disturbed by the Japanese bombers. He felt it was dangerous to stay there. His Boston attorney, John G. Sullivan, wrote to the Director of Immigration in Seattle to make sure Lee’s papers were in order. Lee’s passport had expired many years ago. Chin Hong Ark, also known as Chin Ming, swore in an affidavit, that Lee Quong On, aged 60 years, was a U.S. citizen. Photos of Chin Hong Ark and Lee Quong On were attached to his affidavit. When Lee left for China in 1916 he left his discharge papers and his certificate of identity at the Seattle Immigration office. They were both in his file.
Lee Quong On was admitted to the United States at Seattle on 3 February 1941.

Charley Dea Laundry Price Ticket – 1916 Chicago area

Chinese Laundry Ticket 1916
“Charley Dea Light-Grade Hand Laundry Price List,” ca. 1916, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Chung Hing case file, Box RS 285, RS 34366.

In 1916 Lee Chung Hing, a laborer, applied to leave the United States from his home in Chicago, Illinois for a visit to China. His application for a laborer’s return certificate was rejected because he could not prove that he was a lawful resident of the United States. He had lived in the U.S. for about 36 years but did not have the required certificate of residence. When he originally entered the U.S. he was classified as a merchant. He presented his original merchant identification paper in 1916. It was not accepted.

John G. Sullivan, Immigration Inspector in Boston, interviewed those who Lee Chung Hing listed as his business partners at Quong Suey Lung Company in Boston in the 1890s. Chin Sing had been a partner of the firm for over thirty years but did not remember Lee Chung Hing. He had heard that Lee was a member of the firm but didn’t know him. Lee Chung Hing’s Caucasian witnesses, Luther Gaddis and William K. Jones, were both deceased by 1916. According to the inspector both witnesses had signed hundreds of affidavits for Boston Chinese years ago. They were not the most credible witnesses.

Lee Chung Hing was sixteen years old in 1880 when he first came to the United States. It was two years before the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. He lived in San Francisco as a merchant until about 1892, Boston for seven years, then Chicago where he was a laborer working in a laundry. Lee had a hard time getting the proper paper work for his return certificate. There was a lot of confusion about what documents were needed when the Act was first passed; Lee switched from being a merchant to a laborer; and different documents were required for each classification. Over thirty years had passed since he first arrived in the U.S. His witnesses couldn’t remember him and two had died.

On Lee’s application for a return certificate he claimed his friend of over twenty years, Dea Poon Suey borrowed $1050 from him to buy a laundry in Aurora, Illinois. In fact, the loan was only for $500. [The Scott Act 1888 severely restricted Chinese laborers who were already residing here from returning to China for visits. They could not reenter unless they owned property or held a business investment of $1,000 or more.1] The amount of his loan wasn’t enough to satisfy the law’s requirements. He did not have enough evidence to obtain a return certificate and was denied because lawful residence in the country had not been shown. He was giving the right to appeal. There is no indication that he appealed.

1 John Jung, Chinese Laundries: Tickets to Survival on Gold Mountain (Yin & Yang Press), 2007, 31.